Katie Everett: Pushing the conversation about what’s possible

“Aspir(e)ing Profiles” is a series where we feature leaders in education, child and human development and health and wellness connected to the Wheelock College Aspire Institute. Look out for our monthly profile. You might be next!

Katie Everett Katie Everett, Executive Director of the Lynch Foundation , exudes passion for philanthropy and social change. Her perspective on lessons she’s gleaned over the past 16 years are honest and abundant, “There are no stupid questions and no one solution. It takes a village and whole network of people working to get anything done. No one organization is going to solve every problem. Great intentions go far. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Katie grew up in a home where the culture was to always give back. “My mother was a public school teacher and a girl scout leader. My father was a marine, a banker and Treasurer for Pine Street Inn. We spent Thanksgivings helping to serve at Pine Street.”

After attending Boston College, Katie went on to work at the Boston Inner City Scholarship Fund where she first met Peter Lynch, the Chair of the Board at the time. She quickly went from managing their personal philanthropy and board relationships to helping build what is now a $100M foundation devoted to education, culture and historic preservation, healthcare and medical research, and religious and educational efforts of the Roman Catholic Church.

Katie explained what’s so unique about Lynch’s approach to investing. “We have an open concept application unlike many other foundations and respond to everyone that engages with us. We have high expectations, but also provide a lot of support for the people and organizations we invest in.”

“There are no stupid questions and no one solution. It takes a village and whole network of people working to get anything done. No one organization is going to solve every problem. Great intentions go far. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Also unique to a family foundation, the majority of trustees of the Lynch foundation are not family. What’s more, the Lynches are intentional about comprising their board with a mix of relevant skill sets, including a historian to add insight to their cultural and historic preservation issue area. “We continue to learn and grow. We make mistakes, which we aren’t afraid of. The Lynches like to identify young talent they can invest in, like Wendy Kopp and Paul Farmer, both of which are now having global impact.”

When I asked Katie about her personal passions apart from her work with Lynch, she admitted that it’s hard to separate them because she’s been working with the Lynches for well over a decade. “I moved my kids from the suburbs to the city and enrolled them in Boston Public Schools. What I get to see in my job ignites a certain passion inside of me. Equity and opportunity for all children is possible, and we can get it done.”

Katie embodies the values of the Lynch Foundation – humility and opportunity. She explains that philanthropy began to help forge solutions to social problems, so you must accept the risk alongside the extraordinary reward that comes with it.

Although Katie concedes there are inevitable challenges, she is working so that the Lynch Foundation can continue to push the conversation about what is possible, particularly in the arena of public policy.

The Lynch Foundation has made investments in two of the Aspire Institute’s programs: The Boston Family Engagement Partnership and the Wheelock Catholic Schools Initiative. “Parents,” Katie said, “will be the next voices to push policymakers.”

What is your phrase to live by?

Go big or go home.

What issue are you following?

The Mayoral race. Who isn’t following that?

If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

Sheryl Sandberg. We are going to “Lean In” together.

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